This story from Economist.com provides a great description of the state of manned commercial space flight, the Ansari X Prize, and where it's all going.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
There are many balloon festivals occurring this time of year. These often include an evening firing that illuminates the balloons in a spectacular fashion and are a great photo opportunity.
This has worked for me:
- Use print film. This has a wider exposure latitude than slide film or digital.
- 400 speed film is fine.
- A tripod or monopod is helpful. Don't be afraid of longish exposures.
- Figuring exposure can be tricky. I spot meter a mid tone part of the composition. Let the flame go bright and the background dark.
- Balloon glows are best before it gets too dark. That way the background doesn't go totally black.
- Silhouettes of the balloonists in front of the flames, with the glowing balloon over/around can be effective.
Good luck! Send me links to any images you create and I'll post some with credit.
(The picture above is the next morning at the launch. I don't have a balloon glow image handy.)
Following the completion of flight development testing of its unmanned organic air vehicle (OAV) concept, Honeywell [HON] later this year will deliver Micro Air Vehicles (MAV) to the Army's 25th Infantry Division (Light) as part of an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD), according to company officials.
The OAV was developed originally for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It is a 29-inch diameter iSTAR ducted fan vehicle controller with micro-electric mechanical systems technology developed by Honeywell. Flight tests were conducted at Ft. Benning, Ga., and Honeywell's facility in Minneapolis, Minn. The smaller, 13-inches in diameter, MAV ACTD is also a DARPA program.
See more at Organic Air Vehicle Demonstrator
Thursday, August 19, 2004
From Knight Ridder Business News:
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a Pentagon contract to design and build a prototype "hypersonic bomber" in the US drive for a two-hour strike capability almost anywhere in the world from home soil. Hypersonic travel is defined as travelling at more than five times the speed of sound.
Centrepiece of the programme, codenamed Falcon, will be a giant hypersonic drone that could drop bombs from space, allowing the US to strike its enemies at lightning speed and freeing it from reliance on overseas bases under the control of regional allies.
To learn more, enter these keywords in your favorite search engine:
hypersonic bomber Falcon
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
From AIRwise News:
August 16, 2004
The US government plans to take over screening airline passengers against a 'no-fly' list of potential terrorists, a security official said on Monday, a controversial function now performed by the airlines that has resulted in at least one lawsuit.
The government can do a better job of catching suspected terrorists if it checks passenger names against the no-fly list, rather than relying on airlines to do the screening, Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson said.
Having the government screen airline passengers with the no-fly list is one of the recommendations made by the September 11 Commission.
Hutchinson's comments to the Senate Commerce Committee signaled that the government plans to forge ahead with some elements of its long-delayed upgrade of the Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System, or CAPPS II, even as other elements have been deemed too controversial.
The agency in July shelved plans to hire private contractors to check passengers' credit reports, mortgage payments and other personal information after more than a year of challenges from civil-liberties groups.
The no-fly list has come under legal challenge as well.
. . . . . . .
Find CAPPS II information here:
Monday, August 16, 2004
This article from Space.com provides some interesting commentary about what
the teams face in their quest to fly "homebuilt" spaceships into space.
Worth a look:
Thursday, August 12, 2004
This from a visitor to Thirty Thousand Feet.
> I have Winston Cigarette 4 packs that were given away to customers
> of United Airlines in the 1960s. It is in an original plain
> colored Winston carton with the month and year date stamp.
> I also have some rectangular plates with the old United Airlines
> shield logo on the back. I believe these are from the 70's/80's.
> I also have a promotional plastic slide rule for the time zones
> when United Airlines first expanded to the Pacific. It promotes
> the "Royal Pacific Service". Circa 1985s? Around this same time
> frame I also have notebook pads of paper again from the "Royal
> Pacific Service". Please advise if this are just things I should
> keep or do you think there is interest out there.
Send me an email if you have any interest: email@example.com
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
As a customer service initiative, the TSA has started providing security
checkpoint wait time information to assist travelers in planning for their
next flight. It's based on historical averages, but you can query by
airport, day of the week, and time of day.
Find it at:
Monday, August 09, 2004
Reported in Speednews (www.speednews.com):
Boeing this week in an interview with Speednews said that the United States
government is currently working with the European Union to develop a new
framework for 1992 bilateral agreement between the two countries that
enables EADS (Airbus) to receive launch aid up to 33% of the total cost of
new commercial aircraft programs.
The U.S. large commercial aircraft industry is limited to receiving 3% of
turnover in indirect U.S. support through NASA or military programs.
This launch aid is made in the form of risk-sharing loans to be repaid
within 17 years from the proceeds of aircraft sales as they are delivered.
Boeing says that over the past 12 years, much has changed, and that Airbus
is now in the position to fund its own programs and compete on an even
playing field with Boeing.
Barclays Capital points out that EADS (Airbus) is only required to pay back
the loans, which bear non-commercial rates of interest of approximately
risk-free rates, if the program is declared successful. These grants are not
counted as borrowings, and if the program is not successful, they are not
repayable (the question remains on what makes a successful program).
The U.S., at Boeing's request, is seeking to ensure that Airbus receives no
further direct aid for any potential A380 cost overruns and any or all
future programs to compete against the 7E7; it is not interested in changing
any past funding arrangements.
Boeing contends that Airbus has an unfair competitive advantage, and this
aid has been a significant factor in its success; but it does admit that it
is not the only reason Airbus has succeeded. Boeing does not want this issue
to go to the WTO, but is prepared to see it through.
Airbus points out that all launch aid is received within the applicable
international trade agreements.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
This from Air &Â Business Travel News (http://www.abtn.co.uk):
When you as a consumer go into a shop and buy some goods (or indeed
purchase a service) the price you are given is the price you expect to
pay. There are of course exceptions. You might get a discount and you
may pay a delivery charge, but in general it is all-inclusive
including VAT. Not so in the air transport business. It still seems
that anything goes. A new clampdown on current illegal practices is
being launched by major UK regulators against those selling flights on
the Internet who fail to include the mandatory fees, such as airport
taxes, insurance levies, credit card charges and handling fees, in the
lead prices they quote for flights.
For example a website on Friday 30 July, stated, '1 million seats from
99p', after selecting one at the advertised 99p, you find the final
price to the customer (5 screens later!) is Â£63.85!
Website sales of flights now account for a fifth of the UK holiday
market. This year the Spanish Institute of Tourist Studies reported
that 4m of the total of 10.6m holidaymakers who flew to Spain during
2003 travelled with budget airlines, which shows why this guidance is
needed more than ever as there are increasing numbers of airlines
coming into the market following the enlargement of the EU.
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI), Local Authorities Coordinators
of Regulatory Services (LACORS), the Advertising Standards Authority
(ASA) together with the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) have been
joined by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), to produce a new guidance
paper setting out the legal requirements for all sales of flights on
websites. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the
Passenger Shipping Association (PSA), and Federation of Tour Operators
(FTO) have all expressed concerns that the playing field is no longer
level because many web-based flight sales were advertising lower
prices and then customers faced top-up bills for the mandatory
Travel industry reports drew a very disturbing picture of the lack of
transparency for consumers in the pricing of flights on the Internet,
said Bruce Treloar, the Trading Standards Institute's lead officer for
There is a very clear need to ensure the whole industry is subject to
the same regulatory requirements so consumers can compare prices
easily. ABTA members are already required to include all non-optional
charges in their prices or be penalised under the ABTA code of
Derek Allen, executive director of LACORS said, This guidance will
help ensure more consistency across the trade and will ultimately
provide the public with more accurate price information to ensure
compliance with legislation.
Bill Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association said, We
welcome competition, but it should be fair. The problem we face is
that low cost airlines that flout the law are moving targets, by the
time a complaint is made and enforcement is taken the advert has run
its course and the companies are onto the next promotion.
The no frills airline will say that the price for the ticket is shown
on the actual invoice as it is produced on the computer screen. Not
good enough. The public should not be duped by adverts and promotional
items in believing fares that are in fact far from the truth. They
should be able to see the actual cost of a flight before they purchase
a ticket and this guidance will mean correct charges being displayed
on airline websites.
Consumers need to be provided with all the facts they need to make a
price comparison before they get to the checkout. The various bodies
concerned should be complimented on their efforts to ensure that the
public is not duped but the listing of the regulations is far too
complex for the public to understand. The guidance is a step forward
but what is essential is a single piece of legalisation with teeth.
The practice needs to be stamped out by government. It is no good 12
months afterwards a warning issued. A misleading airline needs to be
heavily and publicly fined. That will put a stop to it.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
This from Angelflight East http://www.angelflighteast.org/:
Our 15th Annual Vintage Aircraft and Classic Car Show will be held at Wings Field in Blue Bell, PA on Sept 11, 2004 from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Rain date Sept 12, 2004. Admission is free. Parking $10 per car. The event benefits Angel Flight East. We usually have about 5,000 people attend. There are kids activities and concession booths. We still have space available for Vintage aircraft for those pilots wishing to fly in and show their planes. The pilots get breakfast and lunch.
For info.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 800-383-WING.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
A visitor writes:
I was wondering if you would have any information that could help me out. I have a framed print of the shuttle Columbia on the launch pad waiting to launch, and would like to sell the print. Where might I begin without having to use the obvious ...EBAY. Thanks for the help.
The print is a 16 x 20, in a silver finish steel frame. Send an email to AntonioP73@aol.com if you are interested.
This impressive flash animation (available in broadband and dial-up versions) lets you pass through a running jet engine. Worth a look!